Bertrand at Mister A's (San Diego; tel. 619-239-1377): Offering the city's most delectable views, this longtime San Diego favorite was reborn in 2000 with a reported $1 million makeover. A very old-school, vaguely campy space was molded into an elegant, bright, sophisticated dining destination with excellent American-Mediterranean fare.
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George's at the Cove/George's Ocean Terrace (La Jolla; tel. 858-454-4244): Tasty smoked chicken-broccoli-black-bean soup is an enduring dish; it's on the menu at the fancy downstairs dining room and the breezy upstairs cafe. The two share an aah-inspiring ocean view. The downstairs kitchen turns up the finesse factor for inventive and formal California cuisine, while the cafe offers crowd-pleasing versions.
Discover Fish Tacos: You can't visit San Diego without trying a fish taco. I'm talking about a soft taco filled with lightly fried fish, lime, cilantro, hot sauce, shredded Napa cabbage, and a mysterious white sauce. Try it at the ubiquitous Rubio's (various locations; the original stand is at 4504 E. Mission Bay Dr., tel. 858-272-2801) or Point Loma Seafoods (2805 Emerson St., tel. 619-223-1109).
Best Spot for a Business Lunch: Dakota Grill & Spirits, 901 Fifth Ave., in the Gaslamp Quarter (tel. 619-234-5554), has the three most important ingredients of a business lunch locale -- great location, appropriate atmosphere, and excellent food -- but without prices that scream "power lunch."
Best View: Many restaurants overlook the ocean, but only from Brockton Villa, 1235 Coast Blvd., La Jolla (tel. 858-454-7393), can you see sublime La Jolla Cove. Diners with a window seat will feel as if they're looking out on a gigantic picture postcard.
Best Value: The word "huge" barely begins to describe the portions at Filippi's Pizza Grotto, 1747 India St. (tel. 619-232-5095), where a salad for one is enough for three, and an order of lasagna must weigh a pound. There's a kids' menu, and Filippi's has locations all over, including Pacific Beach, Mission Valley, and Escondido.
Best Seafood: At Star of the Sea, 1360 N. Harbor Dr. (tel. 619-232-7408), you'll find the city's best package of fresh seafood, exquisite preparations, graceful service, and memorable views from the edge of San Diego Bay.
Best New-American Cuisine: Chef Deborah Scott's menu at Indigo Grill, 1536 India St., in Little Italy (tel. 619-234-6802), cleverly fuses the flavors of the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Alaska. The results create one of the city's most adventurous menus, and one of its most delicious.
Slideshow: Fun in the sun
Best Mexican Cuisine:
Best Mexican Cuisine:Rather than the "combination plate" fare that's common on this side of the border, El Agave Tequileria, 2304 San Diego Ave., Old Town (tel. 619-220-0692), offers a memorable combination of freshly prepared recipes from Veracruz, Chiapas, Puebla, and Mexico City -- along with an impressive selection of boutique and artisan tequilas.
Best Pizza: For gourmet pizza from a wood-fired oven, head for Sammy's California Woodfired Pizza, a local institution with several locations, including 770 Fourth Ave., in the Gaslamp Quarter (tel. 619-230-8888. For the traditional Sicilian variety, line up for Filippi's Pizza Grotto.
Best Desserts: You'll forget your diet at Extraordinary Desserts, 2929 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest (tel. 619-294-7001 and 1430 Union St., Little Italy, (tel. 619/294-7001). Heck, it's so good you might forget your name! Proprietor Karen Krasne has a Certificat de Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and makes everything fresh on the premises daily.
Best Late-Night Dining: Open later than anyplace else downtown, Café Lulu, 419 F St. (tel. 619/238-0114), serves eclectic sandwiches and inventive espresso drinks until 1am during the week, 3am on weekends.
Best Fast Food: Fish tacos from the burgeoning local chain Rubio's, 4504 E. Mission Bay Dr. (tel. 619-272-2801), and other locations, are legendary in San Diego. Sounds strange? Taste one and you'll know why we line up for these.
Best People Watching: The food is nothing to write home about, but The Green Flash, 701 Thomas Ave. (tel. 858-270-7715), is the place to take in the Pacific Beach scene, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Skaters, surfers, joggers, bikers, suntanners, dog-walkers, spring breakers -- you name 'em, they're all here. The boardwalk is just inches from the tables, and the view changes every few seconds.
Best Picnic Fare: Pack a superb sandwich from the Bread & Cie., 350 University Ave., Hillcrest (tel. 619-683-9322), where the hearty breads are the toast of the city. Or head to one of several locations of Whole Foods, where the deli houses a smashing selection of delicious hot and cold items, the city's best cheese collection, and a crisp salad bar; you'll find them in Hillcrest at 711 University Ave. (tel. 619-294-2800), and in La Jolla at 8825 Villa La Jolla Dr. (tel. 858-642-6700).
For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.
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